Ranking data from Bing Webmaster Tools

Everyone wants to know where they rank.  On the face of it, this would seem like important information.  And while it can be useful for savvy SEOs to spot trends, it’s best to be careful and not include ranking as a Key Performance Indicator (KPI).  Why?  Well, let’s look at the position (pardon the pun) it puts you in during your next meeting.  You come in with a ranking report in hand, pleased that across your targeted keywords, your rankings are number 1’s across the board.  You sit in from of your executives and tell them the good news.  They ask, “What’s next?”  You panic as it hits you suddenly that there are only two options form here – rank for more keywords or watch rankings fall on the current ones.  Maybe both, with life becoming an endless shell game of trying to replace rankings falling on one keyword with rankings increasing on another.  Better to stick to delivering the message around traffic, clicks, pages consumed, etc.  Hard metrics you can track with third party analytics.

This is not to say rank data doesn’t have its place, however.  Spotting trends on which pages are gaining traction is a critical part of any SEO’s day.  This information allows you to run experiments and watch for the best performers across multiple tactics.  Much easier to them apply the winner broadly across the site.

You’ve got to start somewhere, the saying goes, and that’s often “beyond 100” in the rankings.  Whether you find value after page three, or after page ten matters little.  What matters is that first moment you see hard data indicating a change is happening.  That your page is ranking, and getting clicks.  And even those two elements – ranking & getting clicks – are two entirely different animals as your data will show.  You could easily rank and get no clicks.  What’s the point then?

Flashing back to your executive meeting where you’re beaming about ranking so well, you quickly lose the warm and fuzzies when asked why there’s no traffic coming to the site.  Rankings, with no clicks, is a lonely place.

Knowing this is happening can be a powerful “ah ha” moment for nay SEO.  Knowing which pages and keywords are involved is critical to the next, more important step:  Figuring out what to do next.  Is the problem your content?  Is the problem relevancy?  Is the problem the actual searcher?  Without knowing where to start, it’s a daunting task to fill in these blanks.

Bing Webmaster Tools provides deep insights into this information, with two paths to discovery.  You can come at this problem from the URL end or the keyword end.  Let’s take a look at how to uncover he data, shall we?

The two paths are as follows:

  • Log into your Bing Webmaster Tools account
  • Select a site to work on (if you only have one site verified, you’ll automatically be taken to this Dashboard)
  • In the navigation, click on the small arrow next to Reports & Data (circled in orange below)
  • Click on either Page Traffic or Search Keywords (orange arrows)
  • On the far right of the report, click on (View)
  • Inside the report popup, click on the + symbol to the left of the keyword or URL to see detailed information

If you click on Search Keywords, you’ll see a randomized list in the report.  You can click on any heading to resort the data around that column.  Clicking the same heading again reverses the order of the data shown.

If you click on the (View) link on the right of the report, you’ll see a popup appear with information available related to just the item you clicked on.  Clicking on the + symbol, expands the data you can see related to the keyword, and the URL that ranked for that keyword.
Now you’re seeing not average ranking positions, but actual rank positions.  You’re also seeing clicks in each position and click through rates for each position.  All of this data is reflected against the date range you selected at the top of the reports page, so you can tailor this information for a specific period of time if needed.

In the hands of a smart SEO, this information is great for uncovering what areas to work on next.  Insights drawn from this data can help you understand the searcher’s behavior, as well.  Some keywords may be pure research, whereas others may lead more directly to conversions.  By watching the click data across positions you can start to build an understanding, at a keyword level, of what action the searcher is taking.  This can lead you to reprioritize your keyword targeting data.  Knowing how many people search on a keyword is important.  Understanding whether they will click on your result after the search is critical.  As part of a broader plan to manage content, this information can help you gain a deeper understanding of what works.  This not only holds the promise of increased traffic, but also, potentially, of increased ranking positions as the engine sees searchers interacting with you more frequently.

While ranking reports might be a slippery slope, the data provided from analyzing rank position data can yield insights well worth your time.

(Note: we’re experiencing issues posting images to our blog this week.  This post will be updated with more images to help explain the process above as soon as possible.)

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